Zach West is so excited about the possibility of getting back on a recumbent bicycle that he wants other hemophiliacs to feel the same joy.
The affable 37-year-old Bellingham resident, a member of the Hemophilia Foundation in Washington, is looking for ways to raise money to donate six special three-wheelers known as tadpole recumbent tricycles, or "trikes."
West was born with hemophilia, a disease that prevents efficient blood-clotting. He also has had to contend with epilepsy.
Question: Zach, what's your cycling history?
Answer: I loved bicycles as a child. I rode recumbents as a young adult until I got into a serious accident. I'm just getting back to the point where I am trying to save enough to buy a recumbent.
Q: What's your charity goal?
A: I'm so enthusiastic about the idea of other hemophiliacs enjoying recumbents that my goal is to raise $60,000 for six of these tadpole recumbent trikes. The problem is finding sponsors, and so on. This is my private goal; it is not related to the Hemophilia Foundation. A lot of hemophiliacs are low-income and most could not afford a recumbent like this.
Q: Why are these bikes so expensive?
A: I really want to put high-end safety equipment on these trikes, equipment that lasts a long time. I want these donated bikes to be the best and safest they can be. It takes about $10,000 to properly outfit one of these.
Hemophiliacs face a lot of health challenges and these trikes are great exercise. I call it "therapy made fun."
Q: What's your medical background?
A: I was born with Factor 8 A Hemophilia. My parents had no idea I had been born with it. They discovered it when I was a toddler, when I developed a hematoma (swelling filled with blood) on my head.
Q: Could you participate in school activities?
A: I couldn't play most sports, so bicycling became my outlet. I also learned yoga from a wonderful teacher at Sehome High, Bill Baker. He taught me yoga, cycling and weight training, and just general fitness.
I also played all the clarinets in the Sehome band and I was selected to play the e flat alto clarinet in the all-state band. I can't play now because I have osteoarthritis in my fingers.
Q: What happened in your cycling accident?
A: I did the Ride Around Washington on a two-wheel recumbent over six days. But when I was 26, I fractured a femur and a ball joint in my hip and suffered other injuries. I needed surgery.
Since then I've had an elbow replacement and a knee replacement. I have also had to deal with epilepsy. That's why cycling is so important to me, since I'm not allowed to drive.
Q: You seem remarkably happy, considering your medical challenges.
A: As long as I'm up and walking, I'm happy. I do a lot of volunteer work for local charity and service organizations, such as the Evergreen AIDS Foundation and The ARC of Washington.
People interested in helping Zach West with his fundraising can reach him at 360-389-1881 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information about recumbent trikes, see trikeasylum.wordpress.com.
Michelle Nolan is a Bellingham freelance writer.